Mother of murdered student Morgan Harrington consoles mom of her daughter's alleged killer Jesse Matthew and says she understands HIS family is suffering too

  • Jesse Matthew accused of killing Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington
  • Her mother yesterday shook hands with Matthew's mother and said she understood it was difficult for her family also
  • Matthew, 33, is also charged with murdering UVA student Hannah Graham
  • Miss Graham, 18, and Miss Harrington were killed five years apart
  • Their alleged killer will face trial for each of the murders next year and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the Graham case

The mother of murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington has consoled the mother of her daughter's alleged killer Jesse Matthew.

Gil Harrington approached Matthew's mother Debra Carr in court yesterday, shaking her hand and saying she understood that her family was suffering too.

Matthew is accused of murdering Miss Harrington, 20, and UVA student Hannah Graham, 18, five years apart.

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Gil Harrington (pictured) approached Matthew's mother Debra Carr after a court appearance, shaking her hand and saying she understood that her family was suffering too
Debra Carr (pictured) was said to be 'surprised' by Mrs Harrington's gesture

Understanding: Morgan Harrington's mother Gil (left) shook hands with Debra Carr (right), the mother of her daughter's alleged killer Jesse Matthew

Matthew is accused of murdering Miss Harrington, 20, and student Hannah Graham, 18, five years apart

Matthew is accused of murdering Miss Harrington, 20, and student Hannah Graham, 18, five years apart

Miss Harrington was found dead in 2009
Miss Graham was killed in September 2014

Tragic: Virginia Tech student Miss Harrington (left) and UVA student Miss Graham (right) were killed in 2009 and 2014 respectively

Mrs Harrington said: 'I looked his mother in the eyes, I told her I understood this was very difficult on their family as well. 

'I gave her my condolences and I shook her hand. It was the right thing to do. I think she was surprised, and I think she was receptive.'

Miss Harrington was last seen alive at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in 2009. Her T-shirt was later found on a nearby tree limb and her body was found more than three months later in a field about six miles away.

Matthew, 33, faces charges of first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile.

He is also charged with the murder of Miss Graham in September 2014 and will face trial July next year. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in that case. 

Miss Harrington's case was originally scheduled for October 17 but was moved back a week after lawyers were informed this was the date she went missing in 2009.

Tragic: Miss Harrington was last seen alive at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in 2009

Tragic: Miss Harrington was last seen alive at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in 2009

Miss Harrington's (pictured in both) T-shirt was found on a tree limb and her body was found more than three months later in a field about six miles away
Miss Harrington's case was originally scheduled for October 17 but was moved back a week after lawyers were informed this was the date she went missing in 2009

Miss Harrington's (pictured in both) T-shirt was found on a tree limb and her body was found more than three months later in a field about six miles away

Her parents made an emotional appearance on CBS 7 after hearing Matthew had been charged with their daughter's murder.

'Something as heinous as taking someone else's life should have consequences,' Mrs Harrington said. 'It's been slow going, but I had faith we would get here.'

When asked how she felt now, she said; 'It's not bittersweet. It's odd because how can you celebrate the fact that there's confirmation that your daughter was murdered by someone?'

As for Matthew, she said: 'I do not hate him, because, to me, he is like a different species.'

She also revealed that she plans to go to her daughter's trial every day.

'I want my face there because I want him to see me cause I want him to know that I know,' she said.  

Mrs Harrington, pictured with her husband Dan Harrington, said she considers Matthew a 'different species'

Mrs Harrington, pictured with her husband Dan Harrington, said she considers Matthew a 'different species'

Mrs Harrington has called on Matthew to plead guilty in both murder cases to spare the families involved

Mrs Harrington has called on Matthew to plead guilty in both murder cases to spare the families involved

After police named Matthew as a person of interest in Graham's disappearance, he fled and was later apprehended on a beach in Texas. 

Before yesterday's hearings Mrs Harrington said she wanted Matthew to plead guilty in both murder cases in order to spare the families involved, including his own.

'It would be the most merciful to all the families involved,' she said. 'Many families have been decimated by the crimes of Jesse Matthew, including his own.'

A DNA sample collected after he was taken into custody connected him to a 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax County.

Matthew already faces up to life in prison after being convicted in June of attempted capital murder, abduction and sexual assault in that case. He's expected to be sentenced this week.

A former girlfriend of Jesse Matthew said yesterday that he himself was raped as a child.

Lawyers for Matthew are asking a judge to consider Matthew's difficult upbringing ahead of the sexual assault sentencing. 

Matthew, a former hospital worker and taxi driver, also has been accused of raping students in 2002 and 2003 at Liberty University and Christopher Newport University, where he had played football, but those cases were dropped when the women declined to press charges.

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